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The Current

The Current

Foreign Exchange students immersed in Bruin community

Foreign Exchange students Seniors Madita Hiller and Salvatore Ginexi hang out at a Bear River table. Photo by Kirsten Briscoe.

According to AmeriStudent, around 1.1 million exchange students choose the United States as their host country every year, and this year Bear River has excitedly welcomed two new foreign exchange students to the 2019-20 school year.

One new foreign exchange student, Senior Salvatore Ginexi talked about where he’s from and what it’s like being a foreign exchange student.

“I’m from Sicily, Italy … school is really different in Italy,” he said. “The first thing is that every day I stay in the same classroom with the same classmates and here I switch classes every hour so it’s really different.”

Genixi’s host brother and sophomore at Bear River Noah Siegenthaler talked about what it’s like hosting a foreign exchange student.

“It’s pretty good,” he said. “Salvatore is pretty nice and hard working. He occasionally struggles with some subjects because he doesn’t know the English language that well but I would say it’s pretty fun and he’s pretty fun to hang out with too.”

Genixi’s host mom, Julia Siegenthaler, explained why she decided to become a host parent.

“I saw a post on Facebook from a friend of Salvatore’s mother, explaining the need for a host home,” she said. “I felt like our shared Sicilian heritage and boys’ ages made it a good fit. After talking to the gang about it, we all decided it would be nice to have another voice and smile in the household. The timing was perfect, as we were planning a trip to Italy over the summer, and Sicily after the end of this year.”

Genixi also talked about what made him want to come to Bear River.

“My sister lives in San Francisco so I started to search high schools here to start and I met a really good host family so I decided to come here,” he said. 

Spanish and English language development teacher Daniel Bussinger talked about foreign exchange programs in previous years.

“Before we had six or seven foreign exchange students every year from all kinds of different places and students were able to learn a lot about different places but this year there are only two,” he said. “Salvatore is a great student and great to have in class.”

The second foreign exchange student at Bear River this year is Senior Madita Hiller from Berlin, Germany.

She talked about why she chose to come to Bear River and some of her favorite things about it so far.

“My sister has been here before six years ago, so I live with the same family and this is the nearest school,” she said. “You get to know the people with a different culture and traditions and you learn the language and you’re [becoming] more open minded so I’ve really enjoyed it, especially the jungle dance and football game.”

Mrs. Siegenthaler explained how important it is for a student to spend a whole school year in the exchange program to experience what an American teenager does each year.

“A two-week exchange student isn’t in a home long enough to completely integrate into the family,” she said. “Having another student here for an entire school year necessitates a more accelerated integration, I think.”

As a final thought, Mrs. Siegenthaler commented on how Ginexi made the experience all the more enjoyable.

“This has been an amazing experience for us, and we couldn’t have asked for a better person to join our family.”

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Foreign Exchange students immersed in Bruin community